Why do I need my Pallet Racking System Inspected?
There are three main reasons for having your racking system inspected.
- To ensure the safety of your employees
- To comply with legal requirements
- To comply with insurance requirements
Pallet racking systems support thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of pounds of material; therefore, a failure in the system can lead to serious injury or fatalities. Failures most often occur as a result from:
- damages affecting the structural integrity of the system
- inadequate engineering, design, or installation of the system
- overloading the capacity of the system
Beyond the obvious ethical and financial reasons to ensure that your employees are safe; Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada, states:
“Everyone who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.
Therefore, Owners, Directors, Managers, and Supervisors can be held personally responsible under the Criminal Code where an injury occurs due to a failure to provide a safe work environment.
Alberta Occupational Health & Safety
Several sections of OHS Code are relevant to warehousing operations and pallet racking. A couple of sections address an employer’s responsibility for the equipment used in its operations as well as storage and pallet racking in particular.
Part 1, Section 12 Equipment
(1) An employer must ensure that all equipment used at a work site:
a) is maintained in a condition that will not compromise the health or safety of workers using or transporting it,
b) will safely perform the function for which it is intended or was designed,
c) is of adequate strength for its purpose, and
d) is free from obvious defects.
Part 12, Section 187 Pallets and storage racks
1) An employer must ensure that pallets used to transport or store materials or containers are loaded, moved, stacked, arranged and stored in a manner that does not create a danger to workers.
2) An employer must ensure that racks used to store materials or equipment
a. are designed, constructed and maintained to support the load placed on them, and
3) A worker must report any damage to a storage rack to an employer as quickly as is practical.
b. are placed on firm foundations that can support the load.
4) The employer and the workers at a work site must take all reasonable steps to prevent storage racks from being damaged to the extent that their integrity as a structure is compromised.
Canadian Standards Association CSA A322-17
This is a 51-page User Guide that, when used in conjunction with CSA B335 (Safety standard for lift trucks), establishes the requirements for a safe environment where steel storage racks and lift trucks are the primary equipment of the workplace.
Section 8.1.1 states “Owners should ensure that there is a systematic pallet rack inspection program in place and that a competent person performs the inspection.”
Section 9.1.3 states “Existing pallet racks might have been designed to other standards, including CSA A344.2 which has been incorporated into CSA S16. In the past, the design standards for racks were not referenced by regulations in Canada and designers have used standards other than CSA A344.2. Where racks have been designed to standards other than CSA S16, and do not bear the seal of an engineer, they should be reviewed to ensure that the design complies with the standards applicable at the time of construction, and seismic forces have been considered.”
The complete CSA A344 guide can be found here.
If an accident was to occur involving your racking system, your insurance provider may not cover the damages. The adjuster would investigate the incident, as well as your documentation, to determine if sufficient due diligence had been performed to ensure the system was designed to meet code and that sufficient maintenance had been performed to prevent the accident.
What regulations, codes, and standards govern the design of a Pallet Racking structure?
Engineers use a variety of resources including the Building Code, CSA and their experience to ensure the structures are designed, manufactured, and installed to meet code and perform as intended.
National / Alberta Building Code
The design of Racking systems is governed under the Alberta Building Code, (1,300 pages) as Steel Structures. As per the code, “it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that any structure of this nature, that are on their premises or used by their employees, are designed, manufactured, installed, and maintained to meet code”.
- S-16-14 Design of Steel Structures.
- S136 North American specification for the design of cold-formed steel structural members
- G40.20-13/G40.21-13 General Requirement for rolled or welded structural quality steel / Structural quality steel.
How can I ensure my existing pallet racking system is adequate and safe?
To verify that your racking system is adequate and safe it should be inspected. There are many legacy racking systems that have been installed without engineering, and may not be suitable for the loads and conditions they are being used for. An engineer can review an existing system, its current condition, and the site conditions to determine systems capacity, and adequacy.
The fact that a legacy system has not failed is not sufficient to assume that it is adequate. In the event of an accident the onus is on the company and its management team to demonstrate that they have taken the necessary measures and performed due diligence to ensure the adequacy and safety of the system.
Even when a racking system is properly engineered and installed to begin with, it may no longer be adequate.
- A common misunderstanding of racking owners or warehouse supervisors is that it is ok to rearrange beam levels within their systems. Over the years beam levels are moved, added, and removed until it no longer resembles the original system designed. The number of beam levels, and elevations of those beam levels, has a tremendous impact on the capacity of the supporting frames and any changes to the system should be reviewed by an engineer.
- Similarly, as the business evolves, often there are changes to the product lines being stored on the racking. Load characteristics such as weight, weight dispersion, pallet dimensions, stacking pattern, etc. of these new products need to be considered in the design.
Over time, components can become damaged, corroded, misaligned, loosened, dislodged, or missing altogether. Any of these things, and even the overall age of the system, can reduce the capacity of the system.
How often do I need to have my pallet racking inspected and what should I be looking for?
Section 8 of CSA A344-17 identifies the suggested frequency and scope of a proper inspection program. A summary of their recommendations is as follows:
- Owner to perform monthly inspection
- Expert inspections annually
- Compare current system to engineered layout and elevation drawings
- Identify damages
- Identify missing components
- Identify improperly installed or misaligned components
- Identify unsafe or improper operating and housekeeping practices
How can Cam Industrial help me with my inspection needs?
Cam Industrial offers a turnkey solution
to your racking design, engineering, inspection, repair, and maintenance needs. The extent of work required at your facility will depend on your existing documentation, racking configuration, rack condition, product mix, and your comfort level or risk tolerance to ensure the system is safe.
We will consult with you to determine your needs and provide as much assistance as you require.